Saturday 29th May
Here I am back on the blog again – I facetiously called Denise’s bog the pirate blog but they’re the most considerate pirates in history. One of the reasons that Denise and family are part of the very small and select group that we allow on board unsupervised is that they always leave the boat in a better state that they found her! They’re perfect boat-sitters 🙂
With rain forecast we decided to visit Crick today and cruise in the hopefully better weather tomorrow. We had an unusually early start from home and had an exceptionally quick drive – none of the bank holiday road chaos that we’d feared (though the M1 had its endemic slow roadworks). As we drove we reminisced about this time last year when we were whizzing around on the BCN marathon challenge in the brilliant sunshine. I do hope that they’ll be able to run that event again in future years…..
The last time we came to Crick (some years ago) it was an unmitigated disaster – a big fire had closed the approach road, the queues to get into the car park were of almost biblical proportions, it was raining horribly, the site was ankle deep in mud, the stalls were huddling miserably in the downpours and my day finished with a nasty fall over an unmarked step, a broken shoulder and two costly operations to insert and remove large screws into the joint (which Richard would have happily sorted with his Bosch super drill!). We haven’t been back since so I approached this year’s show with a certain amount of trepidation….. (and Richard helpfully had his drill in the boot).
This time there were no queues to get in – either to the car park or to the show; it was very well organised with plenty of personnel on duty to guide cars to the appropriate parking. It was raining and I was a bit surprised that the grass in the car park fields was so long – take waterproof shoes for the trip from the car to the show. Nonetheless the main pathways had proper tracks laid down.
We bobbled around for a bit, just getting a feel for the show. It started raining in earnest as we reached the showground and we (along with everyone else) scooted into the main ‘pavilion’ – luckily it’s dog friendly. We were getting ready for a gratuitous mooch around out of the rain when we spotted another greyhound – it was Duke along with owners Peter and Sue who’d joined us for a charity cruise last year. We chatted greys and boating for ages – we’re hoping to do another charity cruise with them later in the year. It would be fab to have Duke on board again – he is such a sweetie. A moment later we bumped into the lady who runs the Thames and Kennet Marina in Reading – one of our all time favourite mooring places. “Ah you recognised the dogs” said Richard, “oh no, I recognised you” she diplomatically lied…..
We had a browse along the stalls – there’s a good variety. We were after pencil fenders, Odorloss Green for the loo and some silly patchwork trousers and fleeces for me – got to keep up the style after Paris 🙂 While we were there we said ‘hi’ to Paul from Waterway Routes – we’ve waved to them often while passing on the BCN but we’ve never had the chance to say hello in person. Nearby we spotted the cheapest rubber side fenders in the show – 6 for £25 – bargain.
After a circuit of the pavilion we braved the rain and wandered around the rest of the show. I immediately bought a brolly and we lurked in a stall selling rope (we’d need some for our new fenders). Suddenly a couple came up for a chat – ‘we met you at Ringstead’ she said ‘that’s Blue isn’t it’ – see, the dogs are so famous. We chatted greys for a while longer – they have a lovely lurcher that we met on the Nene but who was too nervous for them to bring to the show.
Billing Marina (where we’re currently moored) had a stand at the show and the gents there hailed us as went past – what good memories they have! We chatted for a while and extolled the virtues of their visitor moorings. It’s been very pleasant to moor here and I’ll be a little sad to leave.
Midland Chandlers had a useful stall and we had a bit of a spree there later on – odorloss green for the loo, a new wooden bit for our tiller (it probably has a proper name) and a fine new boathook. Then we went to the waterside stalls, bought some very colourful trousers for me (though not as bright as the ones I bought later) and another thick fleece which I put on immediately! We had a quick look at Sanity Again and asked the boat’s ‘bouncer’ (actually a very nice lady, presumably from Braidbar!) to pass on our regards to Bruce and Sheila who looked to be busy with visitors inside. Sanity Again looked mighty fine, though I was pleased to see a few scratches in the blacking at the bow to prove that she’s a proper boat……… 🙂
By now the dogs were wet and bedraggled (but perfectly fine). They were going for the sympathy vote and they got in buckets from passers-by. One man did told me off for keeping Lou out without a coat and in such miserable conditions (Richard and Blue were way ahead of us). She turned her soulful eyes on him and said “I’m yours for a bacon sandwich”….
The next greyhound indignity was being dragged onto a mini lure-racing course by Richard (I refused to have anything to do with this venture!). Predictably with all the activity going on around them they weren’t the least bit interested in the lure, let alone running after it!
Before we got accused of dog-abuse we hastened to find some food stalls and we all had a superior sausage in a very inferior bun – it all went down the same way with Blue and Lou; we also had some very good curly fries – so they should have been – they cost £4!
By the time we’d eaten we decided we’d had enough and went forth to complete our shopping – all the heavy stuff plus a long raincoat for Richard. We were all set to go back to the car when I spotted the silly trouser stand I’d been looking for, with a multitude of weird and wonderful clothes and other objects from Indonesia. Richard left me there and took the dogs back for a rest in the car – they were knackered – they’d been walking for over an hour, had to lie on some grass WITHOUT THEIR SHEEPSKINS, put up with fuss from random passersby (some of whom actually photographed Lou looking utterly soppy while having her ears rubbed) and been rained on (though they weren’t cold and suffering, despite appearances to the contrary). Richard settled them happily into their beds (the boat beds were in the car, freshly laundered) and I settled down to some serious shopping. As well as clothes, I got a load of indonesian musical instruments – mainly percussion – for my choir to play with. I can’t wait to use them – they’re wonderful and so cheap. I bought a hand drum, cymbals and four other hand-held instruments for less than the cost of one drum in a music stall in Camden Market.
With the dogs sorted and a break in the rain, we had a final, more relaxed, look around the stalls – we finished the day with a selection of fudge – flavours you wouldn’t think of – Bailey’s for example – yum yum!
We left at around 3.30pm – the show had been very quiet and half the cars had already left the car park. There’s certainly plenty to see here but it’s undoubtedly more pleasant when it’s not raining. We’d enjoyed our trip, though maybe next time we’ll cruise in the rain and visit Crick in the sunshine – after all, nothing much can dent our pleasure of cruising!
We had a short trip back from Crick to Billing Aquadrome via Morrison’s in Northampton.There are a few more narrowboats on the visitor moorings. From the pontoon it looks as if we’ll never get past them, but from the shore it looks as if there’s plenty of room – we’ll see how it goes tomorrow!
We were all so sleepy when we got back to the boat – we struggled on with unloading the car, paid for our extra night’s mooring, put the nicely laundered dog beds back in place, fed the dogs, blogged about the dogs and filled with water!
All that activity woke us up enough to get across to the same chinese that we visited two weeks ago. Here’s a top tip for you – if the chinese is only half-full then do go in – the food is luscious and plentiful; if it’s more than half-full then go elsewhere because chances are that they can’t cope. The food was still very good this evening but the service was woeful – the restaurant was full and they simply weren’t managing though I’ve heard that it’s very healthy to prolong your dinner over 2 hours……
It’s so different here tonight – there are at least ten times more people around and the funfair was still open and busy at 10pm. I’ve enjoyed mooring here – you couldn’t hope for a friendlier place. There’s every amenity that a family could need as well as full teams of maintenance and security guards working round the clock. It’s very reassuring, as is the big security gate which separates the moorings from the shore (though we haven’t felt the least bit unsafe here). I find myself rather snobbishly thinking that Billing Aquadrome is fine but ‘not our sort of place’. Yet, we’ve had a really good time here. So, my overall verdict: if you’re idea of a mooring is the dark perfection of a starlit sky and the soft noises of hunter and hunted then don’t come here; if you want good amenities, a friendly welcome and a bit of entertainment and fun then this definitely the place to be…..